GHOSTS: (PODCAST EPISODE #3 TRANSCRIPT)
Hello everyone, this is Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, also known as Olomidara Yaya. I'm the host of manifestations of Yaya. Thank you so much for tuning in, this is our third episode. Manifestations of Yaya is a new healing initiative that charts the intersections between art and healing. Thank you to all of the listeners who downloaded the podcast and who have been tuning in, people who have been reaching out to me to let me know: “Hey I listened to the podcast.” That has been really sweet, so thank you for tuning in and checking us out over here because, as I said, this is a new initiative.
I must admit tonight I'm recording and I'm feeling so much sadness due to the passing of Chadwick Boseman. I know that a lot of you all out there listening are probably feeling the impact of what it means to lose such a phenomenal being, artist, someone that really understood what their purpose and what their role was in this realm and how they could really use that art, their body, their soul, their heart to make a difference in terms of representation, especially of Black people. This moment and movements that we find ourselves in... it is a very intense place in terms of COVID-19. There's a March on Washington 2020, so many institutions including Hollywood are having to really reconsider business practices and how they're conducting everything in terms of our relationship to the historical present. It’s a very powerful time to be alive and to witness, and I must admit I have been crying. It’s just been so... I don't even quite have the words for it. In one breath I am literally devastated, and then in another breath I am completely and utterly inspired by Chadwick’s faith and his purpose, and really knowing that he had to execute this really expansive reach through his acting, through his creative ability. From everything that I'm learning about him or confirming what I already felt about him he was severely, intensely, and beautifully connected to his ancestors, our ancestors, and this whole idea of legacy and what are you going to do with your time while you're here.
Image credits: @chadwickboseman
Every time I lose a fellow creative, someone in this field, someone that understands the intersections between art and healing, I'm always in such awe and I always try to do things within my life and practice that honors their lives, but through not making excuses or putting things off for as long as I'm in the land of the living. I was reading Ryan Coogler's (the director of Black Panther) statement that he put out about what it was like working with Chadwick, and I had no clue that the Killmonger was supposed to be buried in Wakanda, and Chadwick had asked Ryan “what if Killmonger is buried somewhere else?”. I had no clue that that conversation went on, and that Killmongers last words in Black Panther are just some of the most powerful, as far as I'm concerned, words I've ever heard uttered in a superhero film. Now I'm not a Marvel nerd or anything like that, so please, comic book people don't come for me, please don't, this is not what this is about. Just thinking about you know the politics of the Middle Passage and this moment that we’re in right now, and what Killmonger’s last words were.
In the first episode I talked about letting my freak flag fly, and really talking about coming out of my spiritual closet, and having the courage to be able to talk about themes, ideas, and concepts that don't usually get discussed openly. So tonight I decided to talk about me being a ghost lady and my fascination with ghosts. Literally, figuratively, metaphorically, on all spectrums, spectators, and senses of the term. This idea of being haunted by the past, or things, concepts, places, the unrested image, the ghosted image, and what it means to pass into the land of the ancestors. What does it mean to be earthbound and you can't pass on? I feel that this happens a lot with energy, it happens a lot with places, it happens a lot with objects, and pretty much everything around us in my opinion has a relationship to ghost hood. As I was pondering, mourning for Chadwick and wanting to talk about ancestors and him crossing over into the land of ancestors, I just kept being haunted by wanting to talk about the Middle Passage and Killmonger’s last words.
In my last episode, I talked about bibliomancy and how I have this affinity for books and just picking them up, always turning to the right section that I need. I also mention how I'm mourning the closing of libraries, and not being able to walk around in the stacks and to get inspired but, during quarantine, I have created my own stacks in my house stacks and stacks and stacks of books. So I picked up this book that I actually checked out from the UC Berkeley library, where I’m a professor, and it's called Ghost of the African Diaspora: Revisioning History, Memory, and Identity. Killmonger's last words in Black Panther were :
“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage.”
I remember seeing Black Panther in theaters in Oakland and when the opening credits came on, and I'm in Oakland so people came out and represented and everybody's screaming yelling like yeah, just being represented even geographically was just amazing, and being able to witness that. I'm not from the Bay, I’m from Kentucky as I mentioned in other episodes, but it was powerful to witness that. So from the beginning of Black Panther all the way to the end I was just completely mesmerized by representation, and in a lot of my work, I work with the unknown. The unknown, the unnamed, I create these unportraits of black women, black femmes who have been erased from history through acts of trauma, violence, historically and presently. You can totally look up my work, Google it, but I'm really fascinated with the unknown and the people who were buried in the ocean, the people whose names we could never ever ever trace back.
I remember when I came back from my Fulbright in Nigeria and I started reading Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman and it's all about her voyage to investigate the transatlantic slave trade. She literally goes searching for the people that we would never ever be able to know their names, the impossibility of that, and I remember coming back from Lagos and really sitting with this text. The text that she wrote takes place in Uganda and going into the castles where people were held against their will and the door of no return, and I remember feeling so eerie reading the text because when I arrived in Lagos people kept saying to me “Welcome back, welcome back”, and I said “But this is my first time here, I’ve never been here before. This is my first time coming to Nigeria.” It sounds so funny in retrospect, but it took me three days to realize that the people that I met were talking about the Middle Passage. I remember teaching at the University of Lagos, I was teaching African American Art History, and it was so powerful to cross the Atlantic and to be able to teach my students about quilts and the American styles, and how my ancestors were in America and my ancestors were able to survive the Middle Passage and create a life, create a culture here. Not just create a culture, they already had culture when they arrived on the shores, but this integration of cultures and these different methods and modes of preservation of the African culture and integration of what was here in this land that they encountered.
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